The May 6 and 7 Arts of the American West auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers drew hundreds of collectors and dealers to the auction firm’s Denver saleroom, with hundreds more participating globally online. The sale had a 93% sale-through rate, showing impressive interest in the category, especially for jewelry, American Indian artifacts and contemporary western art. The auction realized over $850,000.
Hopi jewelry by designer Charles Loloma sold particularly well. Three of the sale’s tops lots were Loloma pieces from the Estate of Betty Melaver. The highlight of the collection was a Hopi gold, turquoise, coral, sugilite bracelet, which sold for $48,750 following intense bidding in the room, on the phone and online. It was estimated at $25,000 – 35,000. Additionally, a Hopi 18 karat gold, turquoise and coral pendant sold for $13,750, well above its $6,000 – $8,000 pre-sale estimate, and a Hopi silver, turquoise, lapis and multi-gem bracelet sold for $12,500. Lastly, a Charles Loloma Hopi 18 karat gold and multi-gem ring sold above estimate at $5,250.
The American Indian objects sold to benefit the acquisition fund of the Denver Art Museum performed well across the board. Objects from the collection included Indian baskets from indigenous tribes across the United States, plain’s and plateau beadwork, Navajo textiles, Northwest Coastal masks and other artifacts.
“Fresh to the market property with institutional provenance or from a private collection is always exciting to the collecting community,” said auctioneer Maron Hindman. “The phone lines and online bidding barely ebbed in the slightest over the two day auction.”
There were a number of surprises in the auction that seemed to enhance the overall energy in the room. Their was intense interest on a rare, late 19th century Pawnee beaded quiver and bowcase, which sold for $17,500 against a $3,000 – $5,000 estimate and in rough condition. Other examples include a colorful Navajo wedge-weave blanket that sold for $15,000 (estimated at $4,000 – 6,000) and a Shoshone beaded hide dress that sold for $10,625 (estimated at $6,000 – 8,000).
Contemporary western art sales were strong including works by living artists such as John Nieto whose Reclining Apache sold for $16,250 and California artist Howard Post whose Canyon Road sold for $12,500. Additional highlights included Robert Daughter’s Church at Arroyo Seco and Gary Niblett’s San Geronimo Feast Day which both fetched $12,500.
Other highlights of the sale included a redware vase by Santa Clara Pueblo artist Tami Garcia, which fetched $8,750 and an incised redware bowl by Margaret Tafoya, which sold for $4,500. The western enthusiasts actively bid on the collection of custom made Bohlin buckles, cowboy hats and accessories as well as all of the western furniture and accessories. Strong results across the entire sale reflect positively on the interest in the arts of the American west market. The department is currently seeking consignments for its November Arts of the American West auction, which will feature the Ruth and Robert Vogele collection of pueblo pottery and Southwestern Jewelry.